Helping Newcomers Break the Language Barrier: The Importance of Simultaneous Translation in Houses of Worship

Helping Newcomers Break the Language Barrier: The Importance of Simultaneous Translation in Houses of Worship

Immigrants are a large and diverse group in the United States. They represent almost 12.5 percent of the population, and the trend is increasing. Due to the language barrier that hinders their understanding, often times they stop attending religious services or look for a service in their own language even if it means that they have to drive to another city for such a service.

A major barrier churches need to overcome is the language barrier, and for this simultaneous translation is required (sometimes also referred to as simultaneous interpretation or simultaneous translation). It becomes necessary to establish common ground to communicate and understand what is being said during services. Enersound’s equipment allows the congregation to hear what the preacher is saying in their own language, in real time, through the voice of a translator.

We intend to bring a solution to the thousands of newcomers that do not speak the language of the sermon, yet want to seek out others who are of the same religion or creed, thanks to language interpretation equipment. “We use them each Sunday - by having them, we are able to have two services simultaneously (one in English, another in Spanish). This is such a blessing.” says Pastor Clifton from Louisiana.

And this is very important, as the religious marketplace in the US is extraordinary competitive. Several surveys find that the American religious marketplace is characterized by constant movement, as every major religious group is simultaneously gaining and losing adherents. Those that are not growing (or even declining) in number because of religious change simply are not attracting enough new members to offset the number of adherents who are leaving those particular faiths. In this context, providing simultaneous translation and interpretation could represent an aggregated value for churchgoers.

Despite the enormous technological advancements in the past decades, there is still no solution on the market that will automatically translate services without a live, human interpreter, and most churches usually rely on volunteer interpreters from the community if they cannot afford to employ a professional one.

A typical language interpretation system for a church consists of an FM transmitter -that can be table top or battery operated- and microphone for the translator. The congregation uses wireless receivers with headphones. If translating multiple languages, multi-channel transmitters and receivers may be used, with one transmitter per language. There is no limit to the number of receivers you can have for your congregants. A base transmitter has a coverage area of up to 1,000 feet. So you can start small with a basic system for your existing foreign-speaking parishioners, and upgrade the system by getting additional receivers and headphones as this population grows. You can also increase the number of languages offered by purchasing additional transmitters and microphones, one per language interpreted.

For the hard of hearing at your church, mosque or synagogue, Enersound has come up with state of the art assistive listening FM systems (usually consisting of a stationary transmitter and wireless receivers and headphones) that enable the message to be heard by congregation members of all ages and hearing abilities and allow for greater participation. FM technology has done more than just break the barriers of communication and culture in houses of worship. FM language interpretation and assistive listening systems can be used for Sunday services, during religious holidays, for youth groups and various ministries, during special events, mission tours, ceremonies and many other occasions.

With Enersound language interpretation technology, interpreters can now provide real time simultaneous language interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and any other languages needed, with one channel dedicated to assistive listening if necessary. Pastor Clifton makes this point very clear: “We thought we were going to have to conduct a complete new set of services to accommodate the Spanish speakers, with your equipment, that need has been met.”Worship services can now be more fully integrated and accessible to all cultures and languages, helping newcomers to feel welcomed and included.

6th Nov 2014 Federico Holm @ Enersound

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